Cell-free DNA profiling informative way to monitor urinary tract infections

June 20, 2018, Cornell University

Using shotgun DNA sequencing, Cornell University researchers have demonstrated a new method for monitoring urinary tract infections (UTIs) that surpasses traditional methods in providing valuable information about the dynamics of the infection as well as the patient's biological response.

The technique is detailed in the paper "Urinary cell-free DNA is a versatile analyte for monitoring infections of the urinary tract," published June 20 in the journal Nature Communications.

UTIs are one of the most common infections in humans and occur when harmful bacteria or viruses reach parts of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder or urethra.

Researchers at Cornell Engineering and Weill Cornell Medicine discovered that they could learn about the bacterial and viral composition of a patient's urinary tract by isolating cell-free DNA—fragments of a dead cells' genome derived from human and microbial cells—from a urine sample.

Beyond measurement of the abundance of different components of the microbiome, urinary cell-free DNA provides a wealth of information about bacterial phenotypes, according to Iwijn De Vlaminck, professor of biomedical engineering and co-lead author of the study.

"We found that we could deduce the fraction of the bacterial population that is growing, by carefully looking at the places in the genome where the cell-free DNA was derived from" said De Vlaminck, who added that metagenomic analysis of the cell-free DNA can also be used to infer which antimicrobial drugs may work best against a particular .

The monitoring technique can be especially beneficial for kidney transplant recipients, according to the study's authors, which include co-lead author John Richard Lee, assistant professor of at Weill Cornell Medicine, as well as Darshana Dadhania, an associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Lars Westblade, an assistant professor of pathology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Half of all kidney recipients will suffer from a bacterial UTI within the first three years of receiving the transplant, putting those patients at risk of infection related complications.

"The cell-free DNA profiling technique can diagnose rare infections that are not routinely screened for and has the potential for earlier diagnosis and treatment and improve outcomes in kidney transplantation," said Manikkam Suthanthiran, chief of nephrology, hypertension, and transplantation at Weill Cornell Medicine and co-author of the study.

The time required to test urine samples for cell-free DNA can be made comparable to traditional UTI assays, according to the researchers, and will benefit from continued technical advances in DNA sequencing that will reduce cost and increase throughput in the years to come.

Explore further: Randomized trial finds ibuprofen not a safe alternative to antibiotics for UTIs

More information: Philip Burnham et al, Urinary cell-free DNA is a versatile analyte for monitoring infections of the urinary tract, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04745-0

Related Stories

Randomized trial finds ibuprofen not a safe alternative to antibiotics for UTIs

May 15, 2018
Ibuprofen, given instead of antibiotics to women with uncomplicated urinary tract infection, (cystitis), leads to longer duration of symptoms and more serious adverse events related to the spread of the primary infection, ...

Urine of kidney disease patients contains diverse mix of bacteria

May 4, 2018
The urine of kidney disease patients contains a diverse mix of bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, according to a study by researchers at Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago.

Viruses that infect bacteria abound in bladder

January 29, 2018
Phages—viruses that infect bacteria—are abundant in the bacteria that inhabit the female bladder. This is good news, because phage could be used as alternative treatment when antibiotics become resistant to pathogenic ...

Vaginal bacteria can trigger recurrent UTIs, study shows

March 30, 2017
About half of all women will experience urinary tract infections in their lifetimes, and despite treatment, about a quarter will develop recurrent infections within six months of initial infection.

Antibiotics could be key to relieving chronic bladder pain

March 20, 2018
Antibiotics can successfully help rid a patient of chronic urinary tract infection symptoms. This is the finding of a new clinical study led by Sheela Swamy of University College London in the UK. The study in the International ...

Novel nuclear medicine test can identify kidney transplant infection

November 8, 2017
German scientists have developed a novel nuclear medicine test that can determine whether a kidney transplant patient has developed infection in the transplanted tissue. The study, which utilizes positron emission tomography/magnetic ...

Recommended for you

A new approach to developing a vaccine against vivax malaria

September 21, 2018
A novel study reports an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study led by Hernando A. del Portillo and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, ...

Pre-clinical success for a universal flu vaccine offers hope for third generation approach

September 21, 2018
Researchers from the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology have demonstrated pre-clinical success for a universal flu vaccine in a new paper published in Nature Communications.

Researchers define possible molecular pathway for neurodegeneration in prion diseases

September 21, 2018
A new study has shed light on the mechanisms underlying the progression of prion diseases and identified a potential target for treatment.

Fighting a deadly parasite: Scientists devise a method to store Cryptosporidium, aiding vaccine research efforts

September 21, 2018
In May, just before one of the hottest summers on record, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about diseases lurking in recreational water facilities like swimming pools and water playgrounds. ...

Scientists make significant discovery in the fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis

September 20, 2018
A team of scientists have identified a naturally occurring antibiotic that may help in the fight against drug-resistant Tuberculosis.

Anti-cancer drugs may hold key to overcoming antimalarial drug resistance

September 20, 2018
Scientists have found a way to boost the efficacy of the world's most powerful antimalarial drug with the help of chemotherapy medicines, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Jun 25, 2018
haha willis is trying to shame a spambot. How poignant.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.